EU to enhance maritime cooperation with Philippines

EU to enhance maritime cooperation with Philippines

Ursula von der Leyen becomes 1st EU Commission president to visit Manila

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) – The Philippines said Monday that the EU has agreed to "enhance cooperation" with Manila in maritime security, among other areas.

The agreement was reached during the first-ever visit of EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to the Philippines, where she met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila to discuss bilateral relations, said a statement from the Filipino presidential office.

The two sides “affirmed their commitment to stronger bilateral relations as they both agreed on the expansion of trade and enhanced cooperation on climate change, maritime security and green economy,” the statement said.

It comes on the heels of repeated confrontations between Filipino and Chinese vessels in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Beijing and Manila share a long maritime border with overlapping claims.

Manila, under Marcos, has expanded relations with Western nations, including allowing US troops to use more military bases.

“During our meeting, we discussed the economic relations with a particular focus on revitalizing trade between our two regions,” Marcos said.

The two sides also discussed renewing negotiations for a Philippines-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

“On development cooperation, we committed to concluding an agreement on the Green Economy Program in the Philippines, a grant worth 60 million euros, which aims to support the Philippines in areas such as circular economy, renewable energy, and climate change mitigation,” said the Filipino president.

He acknowledged the EU’s “staunch support” for the Bangsamoro Peace Process, as well as the Philippines’ development in terms of the rule of law and justice, agriculture, space cooperation, and disaster management.

“As I mentioned to Madame President von der Leyen, the Philippines and the EU are like-minded partners through our shared values of democracy, sustainable and inclusive prosperity, the rule of law, peace and stability, and human rights,” said the Philippines chief executive.

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